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How to stop caring what others think

Stefanie Schornsheim 0

Do you see yourself stepping back from your own opinions, needs, or plans because other people might judge you for it? That’s a sign you care too much about other people’s approval. This behavior can trigger anxiety, so it’s time to stop caring what others think about you and find your true self.

Signs you might be a „people pleaser“

According to the Cambridge dictionary, a people pleaser is „someone who cares a lot about whether other people like them, and always wants others to approve of their actions.“ according to the Cambridge dictionary. Let’s check what that means and if it affects you.

Are you:

  • Afraid of rejection?
  • Overworked because your to-do-list is full of taks for other people?
  • Not able to say „no?“
  • In need for the approval of others?
  • Agreeing to do things you don’t like?
  • Feeling guilty of saying no?
  • Worried what others think?
  • Always apologizing?
  • Deprioritizing your own needs?
  • Pretending to agree with something even if you feel differently?

I also had to learn to stop caring about what others think about me. But not every aspect of this behavior is terrible! I noticed that people-pleasers, like I was myself, also developed specific traits. For example, it got effortless reading the room and blending in. And caring about others is an essential part of healthy relationships. Remembering what others approve of and then communicating in a way they would appreciate my opinion (which was basically theirs) was a walk in the park.

But this becomes a problem if you only focus on what others think. This might lead to losing a sense of who you are and increasing anxiety because all your mental resources go into making sure others are happy and like or approve of you.

Where does this behavior come from?

If you see yourself tending toward being a people pleaser, the essential question is, „why?“ How did you end up there? Usually, this behavior starts with having low self-esteem and continues with the wish for perfectionism.

If you have poor self-esteem, you don’t put a value on yourself. Instead, you’re looking for external validation when making others happy by doing things or being a likable person for them.

The roots can be found in many different areas. One might be the way you grew up. Maybe you learned to always „be good“ and had to please your parents early. Perhaps you are highly sensitive to stimuli of all kinds and want to avoid conflicts by all means. Or you had a very painful or traumatic experience in your life.

Techniques to stop caring what others think

Depending on how deep this behavior is rooted in your personality, going to therapy might make sense.

Otherwise, there are plenty of things you can do for yourself:

Set clear boundaries

The most essential boundaries are about time, physical, and conversational.

The first category is about how much time you spend with certain people, how much time you invest in work, or doing something for someone else. What helped me a lot was asking me the following question: „How much life am I willing to sacrifice for this?“

The second one includes everything around your body (physical space, sexuality, sharing space with others). Your body, your choice. No one else has the right to decide what you feel comfortable with

Conversational boundaries are crucial these days. People tend to freak out because they have a different opinion than you do. But instead of pretending to agree with them when you don’t, you stop. You don’t have to discuss topics you don’t want to discuss—end of the story.


This might be hard at first if you have already established saying yes to everything. Try to focus on this instead: Before agreeing to do something for someone else, tell them you’ll get back to them after thinking about it. And then you take your time to assess if you really want to do this or only feel obligated to.

Ask yourself how long this will take and if you really have time for it. It might also be helpful to ask yourself if you will be stressed when saying yes. And if so: how stressed will you be? Is it worth it? A study shows that taking a short pause before making a choice increases decision accuracy.

START DOING THINGS FOR YOURSELF stop caring what others think

If you are already used to doing and following what other people want, you stopped putting a value on yourself. That’s something we need to fix. Finding your inner confidence is the goal. Here are two simple exercises you can do daily or a couple of times a week to strengthen your self-esteem:

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